Building a Company Culture with Values That Our Team Is Proud Of

Illustration of people doing a hi five in front of basket shapes that represent values.

If you want to build an authentic brand, one of the elements you should think about is having a unique company culture. It will help you differentiate your company and develop a distinct brand identity.

When we founded Red Basket, this was at the front of our minds. We knew we wanted to build a brand that is true to our values, and in line with who we are and what we stand for. 

And we wanted our culture to reflect that.

As Dave and I co-founded Red Basket and started working together, we realized that our values matched up. There were certain unwritten principles and beliefs that we followed when making decisions. Our values.

One day, we wrote them down. And it was one of the best decisions.

In this article, we’ll share what Red Basket values are, how we went about defining them, and how it helps us build the company culture we want.

The values that guide us

I bet you’re wondering what these values are. Okay, I won’t keep you in suspense. 

Here they are – the four cornerstones of who we are and how we interact:

  • Give it straight: We’re sincere, direct, and transparent in communication, both with each other and also with partners and clients. We give it to you straight and we’re not afraid to be frank.
  • Think smart: We look beyond the obvious and find fresh, simple, creative solutions based on solid evidence. We always approach our clients’ problems from different angles to see the bigger picture.
  • Go the extra mile: We go a step further than what’s expected to help clients succeed. We truly care about everyone we work with and we don’t mind giving extra help where it can make a difference.
  • Better each day:  In all we do, we look for ways in which we can grow and improve. We don’t dwell on our mistakes; we own up to them and use feedback and learnings to be better each day.

Our team culture is built upon these values and they translate into everything we do. From client conversations through to internal operations.

We often refer to them in our daily conversations. For instance, last week, Dave reflected on a call he had with a potential client:

“I was completely honest, like our values state, and I gave it to them straight. I said: I don’t have a solution but I’m going to work my butt off to find one. In the end, the client’s feedback was that my honesty was what won them over. (And we found a solution.)”

Our actions and behaviors are guided and shaped by these values. We truly try to live them.

There’s one more value that rules them all

When we wrote down our values, there were five, not four. However, we noticed the fifth value was somewhat different. It was deeper, and it was like an umbrella that was above all the other values. 

One value to rule them all.

This unwritten principle underpins our culture. It’s Mind over matter

This phrase is often used to describe a situation in which a person uses their willpower and determination to overcome a physical challenge or adversity. 

But we found another meaning in this phrase. For us, it means that the mind, or your mental health comes first. Quite literally, mind over matter. 

We recognize the importance of mental health and make it a priority when making decisions about workloads and deadlines. As time has passed, we learned to apply it daily when dealing with suppliers, team members, as well as customers. 

Bottom line: Red Basket encourages a good work-life balance for everyone we work with. Our goal is to make sure people enjoy work and that they don’t feel overwhelmed or left alone if they’re struggling. 

One specific way we apply this in practice is having a four-day week. 

Wait. What? A four-day work week?

Yep, that’s right!

Our team is encouraged to not work on Fridays if they are able to. They can take Friday as a day for themselves, use it for education (e.g. a course they subscribed to), read relevant articles they didn’t have a chance to read all week, or simply be off. 

You can read a deeper dive into why we picked this value and what it means in practice in a separate blog post, in support of the Mental Health Awareness month.

Need help with defining your brand values?

The process: how we chose our values

Now, we’ll share a bit about how we went about choosing our values.

Here are the steps which we followed, and you can, too:

1. Individually, think about the values you think you team upholds. What does the company stand for? How do you interact with your customers, partners, and employees? Which behaviors do you promote?

2. Then, sit down with your team and write the values down on post-it notes. Paste them on a wall and group similar values together.

3. Discuss what these values mean for each team member. See if you can find words or phrases that will encompass a few similar values into one overarching concept. With a large team, do this in small groups and then share each group’s thoughts on it when you come back together.

4. If you’ve got more than 4-6, get each team member to vote on them to identify the top ones. You can use a polling tool like Slido or anything similar to do your voting live and see results in real time.

5. Think about what these values would mean in practice in your daily work. How would it manifest? Identify the relevant behaviors your team should demonstrate by following these values every day.

6. Add the list to your internal guidelines or easily accessible onboarding docs. Communicate them both internally (to get everyone onboard) and externally (so that audience knows what your brand stands for).

7. Live them. Values are there to be lived. Refer to them in your daily work. Remind your co-workers what they are and what they mean. Make sure your team puts those behaviors and actions into practice.

A wall with multiple post it notes that represent our team's ideas for brand values.

Building the culture that embodies who we are

Choosing these values has helped us in building a team culture that truly personifies who we are and how we want our team members to act. Verbalizing them actually gave us something we can refer to when we’re making daily decisions, big and small.

At our last team offsite in December, we reflected on the past year as a team. Our eyes welled up when Dave and I heard the rest of the team talk about our culture.

Their feedback reflected how much they appreciate that we really care about them and their mental health. They commended our focus on improving ourselves and explained how much we’ve all helped each other grow and learn. They said they never experienced such a positive work culture during their careers. Hearing all this made our hearts melt.

Our team’s feedback said it loud and clear: we’re building the team culture that we’ve always dreamed of. And that’s what counts for us.


There are no comments yet.

Leave a comment

Give your content marketing an uplift

Download our FREE guide to help your startup grow through content marketing.